US News ranks healthy diet as best in several categories
US News & World Report recently weighed in on the best diets for 2022. The Mediterranean diet topped the scale as the best diet overall in the annual best diet rankings for the fifth consecutive year.
US News also ranked the Mediterranean diet No. 1 in five other categories: best diets for healthy eating, easiest diets to follow, best diets for diabetes, best heart-healthy diets and best plant-based diets.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating less red meat, sugar and saturated fat and incorporating more fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains into your daily diet.
“It’s extremely delicious and easy to follow and get started. It is very sustainable,” says David Felix, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines and a champion of the Mediterranean diet.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Dr. Felix says he’s not surprised the Mediterranean diet ranked so high in so many categories and considers it a way of life.
“The Mediterranean diet is not a fad,” he says. “People who live in Italy, Spain, and other countries in the Mediterranean region have eaten this way for centuries. It’s just a way of life. I grew up on it. My blood pressure is fantastic.”
Based on Mediterranean-style cooking, this diet focuses on primarily eating plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds. It stresses eating fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week, consuming poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation and limiting sweets and red meat for special occasions. It also gives priority to healthy fats, such as olive oil over butter and using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
Like other diets, it also emphasizes getting plenty of exercise, especially if the goal is losing weight.
Other proven diets
In addition to the Mediterranean diet, there are many other proven diets to choose from.
The DASH diet and the Flexitarian diet tied for No. 2 in the best diets overall and best diabetes diets categories.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or high blood pressure. It is often recommended to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It emphasizes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods and limiting salt, sugary drinks, sweets and foods that are high in saturated fat.
The Flexitarian diet is mostly vegetarian, meaning you don’t have to eliminate meat completely. The focus is eating more plants and less meat. This diet also tied for No. 2 in the best plant-based diet and easiest diets to follow categories.
Choose wisely and remember the best diets are those that fit your lifestyle and that you can maintain over the long-term.
Tips for maintaining healthy habits
Diets still take some work. The following are tips to keep you on a healthy path and move the needle on your scale in the right direction:
Drink, then eat
Water can help curb an appetite. People often mistake thirst for hunger and reach for a snack when a glass of water will do.
If the goal is to lose weight, this requires burning calories through exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either. Dr. Felix recommends trying a free pedometer app, such as Stepz, and setting a goal of 10,000 steps a day, if possible.
Get a scale and use it
It’s been shown that people can benefit from weighing themselves regularly. The idea is to spot trends and make adjustments as needed.
When one eats quickly, one tends to eat more. So, eat mindfully, chewing every bite 15 to 20 times and enjoying the taste, smell and texture of your food. Another way to slow down is to eat with your non-dominant hand. This will definitely slow you down.